I have a presentation from the book "introducing translation studies" by Jeremy Munday and there is this part that I don’t understand. It’s a little too advanced for me. Could anyone please explain it?

Baker is typical of many translation scholars who make detailed use of the terminology of functional grammar and discourse analysis in that she devotes the most attention to the textual function. Explicit analyses of the ideational and interpersonal functions are fewer (though see section 6.4 later). "Baker focuses more on thematic considerations, comparing nominalization and verbal forms in theme position in a scientific report in Brazilian Portuguese and English "(Baker 2011: 178–9). Thus, for example, the ST begins with a pronominal verbal form (my emphasis):

  • Analisou-se as relações da dopamina cerebral com as funções motoras.
    [Analysed-one the relations of dopamine with the motor functions.]

The published English translation presents a normalized word order with the selection of an English passive form in final position (my emphasis):

  • The relations between dopamine and motor functions were analysed.

However, for this example Baker recommends a different order of elements (i.e. a different thematic structure) so as to meet the genre conventions of English abstracts. This involves the use of the nominalization analysis in first position as the ‘theme’ of the sentence, along with a different passive verbal form (is carried out):

  • An analysis is carried out of the relations between dopamine and motor functions.

How does she exactly compare "Analisou-se" and "analysis"?

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    Please clarify what it is you don't understand. The Portuguese verb form has no direct translation in English, so some kind of paraphrase is required. One possibility is a passive verb; another an abstract noun. There is obviously a pragmatic difference in that in the first the relations is the subject, and in the second An analysis is the subject.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 9:35
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    Is the final question about what Baker says, or about what Jeremy Munday says that Baker says, or is it just about the translation of 'analisou-se' (and the Baker and Munday just help present that phenomenon)? Also, can you give links to your sources (both Baker and Munday)? I'm sure there's a lot more context about translation philosophies that would inform any answer here. Also, what do you think she compares the two?
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 13:11
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    For your information, that type of sentence in Portuguese is passive. Analisou-se is the same as "é analisado", which means "was analyzed". Her translation error is that she adds a verb (is carried out) that is unnecessary and she says: "an analysis" whereas the Portuguese does not focus on the "analysis". English is not a nominalizing language; it is a verbalizing language. (I should probably work on an answer to this question.)
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 14:36
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    @Lambie An answer from you about this would be most welcome, thank you. I also thought of migrating it to Portuguese Language and perhaps still may do so. But there's no indication that the OP knows anything about Iberian linguistics or the Portuguese language in specific, so she would still need an answer that was mostly in English just like her citation. Feel free to steal any of my ruminations on a potential answer to this question if you do choose to answer this one. Thanks.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 14:51
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    Not sure if it's off-topic but the question needs clarification. How-questions can be answered in many ways, and it's not at all obvious what the OP wants. On one level the author compares "Analisou-se" and "analysis" by presenting side by side a sentence using each form; on another level the apparently make "detailed use of the terminology of functional grammar and discourse analysis"; on yet another level it's done in an essay on translation. Maybe the OP means to ask "What differences exist between the sentences?" or "What is functional grammar and discourse analysis?" or something else.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


Well, “analisou-se as relações” means that someone analysed the relations, so “an analysis” of the relations was indeed carried out. So it is a free translation, but a correct one.

Now, analisou-se as relações is not a passive form. There is a similar passive form―analisou-se a relação or analisaram-se as relações, where the verb agrees in number with the subject―but in analisou-se as relações there is no such agreement, which means as relações is the object, not the subject.

So, this analisou-se is an active form, and se indicates an unidentified subject, someone not identified or people in general, like one (Oxford Learner’s, sense 5). So as nearly a word-for-word translation as you can get would be one analysed the relations. In some contexts people will understand that this se refers to the speaker or a group that includes the speaker, and in this case it most likely refers to the authors, in which case analisou-se really means nós analisamos (past tense, in European Portuguese also analisámos) or ’we analysed‘.

Now, one analysed probably doesn’t sound good, and if you don’t want to go for we analysed, then you have to resort to a passive form. The published translation “The relations … were analysed” is correct. Now this goes well beyond my translation skills, but I think what Baker wants is to start the sentence with the “analysing”, as the Portuguese original does. You can’t do that with were analysed, hence the “An analysis was carried out…”

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    If the Source Text was in fact originally Portuguese, the translation is accurate but stylistically poor. What Baker misses is this: English is a verbalizing language, not a nominalizing language. So: This article or study or paper analyzes the relationship between A and B. How a translation professor misses this fact, blows my mind.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 14:38
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    @Lambie, I agree. I might even go for "we analyse", but academics in many fields have an unfortunate preference for passives. You do find convoluted sentences like that -- an analysis was carried out of...-- in Economics journals, my own field.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 15:12
  • Yes, we analyze would work also. I just don't see why Baker who is English is messing around with Pt>Eng translation.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 15:46

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